It's been quite a start to the year, with CES kicking off 2015. Things are relatively more quiet now in the mobile world, the calm before the storm that will be MWC 2015. For this week, we turn our attention to some existing and upcoming accessories for your mobile devices, but that doesn't mean we don't have a few juicy tidbits about devices and businesses. Welcome to this year's first Android Community's Weekly Digest, covering the period from January 19 to January 25, 2015.
January marks the start of a new year, and naturally we have to take a look back at the previous one. AnTuTu compiled a few numbers from 2014, which has a few interesting revelations. Despite its size, Chinese startup OnePlus still managed to make a dent in the market, entering the top 10 most popular devices. And despite worries about its financial performance, Samsung still reigns the charts. That said, Chinese OEMs are really heating up, giving more established and larger companies a good run for their money.
And while January usually marks the start of something new, we are also saying goodbye to some things this year. Google is graduating its Glass Explorer program and removing the smart eyewear from its store shelves. And although the tech giant assures that it isn't the end yet, some are already considering Glass dead. And it might not be the only one out the door either. Google almost silently removed the HTC One M8 Google Play Edition from its listings, removing the last GPE device from Google Play Store, raising questions about the device line's future.
Out with the old and in with the new, as they say. And as early as now, we're getting quite a number of them, some from CES 2015 alone. Catching up with the crowd is HP, who has just revealed a three new tablets designed for work. The most notable feature of these tablets, however, are the styluses that make use of Qualcomm's fancy new ultrasound pen technology. But perhaps the star surprise of the past two weeks is the Xiaomi Mi Note and its even more premium sibling the Mi Note Pro, mixing Xiaomi's usual quality specs with a price tag to die for.
MWC 2015 rumors
With the Mobile World Congress just a month away, we're hunkering down on the rumors of what's hot and what's not. HTC's upcoming flagship is the center of much attraction and speculation, not to mention leaks of all kinds and sizes. Leaked photos of what is allegedly the One M9, known in rumors as the HTC Hima, reveal a design that is almost totally similar to the One M8. It is the insides that count, as the say, and this is where things get a bit interesting. While it will be HTC's nominal flagship, and indeed the 20.7 megapixel Sony rear camera sensor and UltraPixel front camera might attest to that, rumor has it that a separate One M9 Plus, known as the Hima_Ultra elsewhere, will have some additional features, like a fingerprint scanner and a DuoCamera setup.
And as far as rumors go, word on the Web is that Samsung is ditching Qualcomm's Snapdragon 810 for its own Exynos chip in the highly anticipated Galaxy S6. The reason? Samsung's tests supposedly showed that Qualcomm's 64-bit octa-core chip overheats enough for the Korean manufacturer to seek out a different solution. Rival LG, who is using the exact same chip for its G Flex 2 out in Korea this week, claims it has not had such problems at all.
Time to Accessorize!
Now we come to last week's highlight. While most of our attention are, naturally, lavished on mobile devices themselves, it is only fair to give the supporting cast their share of the spotlight. From battery packs to item locators to TV tuners, we have a variety of trinkets to fill your fancy and your imagination.
For your smartphone's battery needs, we've seen Ampere, a wireless charging sleeve that can juice up your phone even while it rests inside your bag or pocket, no wires required. Upp, on the other hand, offers up more juice for a price and with a bit of eccentricity on the side, utilizing hydrogen cells to power up your smartphone. And speaking of eccentric accessories, the Exodrive Kickstarter wants to solve the problem of having no microSD card slots by putting the slot inside the phone's case instead.
For those with a more musical bent, IK Multimedia is finally giving Android users a sliver of hope. In addition to the iRig 2 announced at CES 2015, the outfit is now announcing the iRig UA and an iRig Mic Studio, both compatible with our favorite mobile platform. If you prefer to consume media rather than create it, D-Link has jsut made available a micro USB tuner dongle for Android.
For those who are bit trigger happy for that camera button, we also have some gadgets for you. Vany takes on the idea inspired by the Lenovo VIBE Xtension Flash and tries to create an LED ring light that will brighten up your selfies. For more serious photographers, the Seek XR thermal camera can help you hone in on a subject even in the darkest of nights.
If you constantly lose your umbrella, then the Kisha "smart umbrella" might be for you. Harnessing the power of Bluetooth, plus a very smart mobile app, Kisha will ensure that you won't forget your umbrella in public places or forget to take them with you on rainy days. The more adventurous mobile user might be a bit more interested in the KiiTAG2 which pretty much lives up to its name of being a digital swiss army knife.
Perhaps the most curious accessory of all isn't actually an accessory but a SIM card. Trying to capitalize on the growing preference of instant messaging over traditional SMS, WhatSim converts any smartphone into a device dedicated to chatting over WhatsApp. For only $10 a year, you are guaranteed untethered WhatsApp coverage across 150 countries, but probably nothing else beyond that.
Have a favorite smarpthone or tablet accessory in mind? Hit the comments below and let the community know! We might even discover some hidden treasure that will augment or even considerably change our smartphone lifestyle in a snap.